Toormore owners dismiss rivals for champion's crown


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The Independent Online

Newmarket's Future Champions Day has had its share of critics since the fixture was created to complement Ascot's Champions Day in the restructured autumn programme. But few have gone so far as to declare the event redundant, as connections of the unbeaten Toormore did in the build-up to Saturday's renewal.

They affirmed that the winner of Ireland's Group One National Stakes was likely to run in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster a fortnight tomorrow only if he needs to reaffirm his position as the leading juvenile after rival claimants have run at Newmarket, in either the Middle Park Stakes or Dewhurst Stakes, the Group One prizes for two-year-old colts.

Among the fields declared are Sudirman, runner-up in the National Stakes, and Aidan O'Brien's unbeaten Great White Eagle, who contest the Middle Park over six furlongs. In the seven-furlong Dewhurst Stakes, the traditional juvenile championship decider, Ballydoyle fields the Coventry Stakes winner War Command against Godolphin's Outstrip, who was second to Toormore in Goodwood's Vintage Stakes before winning the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last month.

Tim Palin, of Toormore's owners Middleham Park Racing, appeared unimpressed. "We had no plans to run him again as we think he's heading to be crowned champion two-year-old," he said. "Unless War Command was very impressive or Great White Eagle did something spectacular, we think Toormore is top of the pile as it looks like [the O'Brien-trained] Australia isn't going to run again. We'd only be tempted to run him if we needed to go out and prove that.

"Realistically, though, we view him as a Classic winner, not a champion juvenile. It's more than likely he'll reappear in the Greenham next year as he'll have no penalties in that. However, Doncaster is a possible, he's absolutely bouncing and it's a case of if we need to run."

Australia was a wide-margin winner of a Group Three contest at Leopardstown last month, after which O'Brien praised him as the best he has handled. He, too, perhaps has little to prove this season, as he is absent from the acceptors for the Racing Post Trophy, the race Ballydoyle has used to anoint its putative champions in recent years.